A new Era in
the world of rap
Artist is sharing her success,By John Berger
helping keep kids off the streets
Special to the Star-Bulletin
Rap artist Era is on the way up, and she's trying to take as many kids with her as possible.
She's sharing her success through her Erazistible Children's Foundation in one of the most direct ways possible: cash. "If a kid wants to go to dance class or computer class or second-language school, we'll pay for them to go to that program. It gives them a chance gain confidence and discipline achieving the goals they set for themselves," Era explained in a telephone interview.
It's a personal, individual way to keep kids off the street.
The foundation also helps older teens develop the confidence and skills necessary to locate and apply for jobs or scholarship programs, her producer, Tony "T. Rob" Robinson, added.
"Sometimes we get a bad rap in the music business as being a bad influence, and some of that has been proven to be true in certain aspects, but what Era's doing is being a positive rapper and MC. She wants to show that rap is not all negative, it does contribute, and it does give back," Robinson said.
Era hit last year with her first national release, "My Brotha," an interpolation of "Just Once," the 1981 Quincy Jones/James Ingram hit. Robinson reworked the song into a cautionary tale of the life and death of an inner city drug lord. Era narrated the story from the perspective of the man's grieving younger sister; Delious Kennedy of All-4-One was a guest vocalist. For awhile it seemed I-94 was playing "My Brotha" every other hour. Robinson says in fact the song was played more than 850 times during its peak popularity here.
"The concept is a true story about a close friend of mine, and it touched a lot of hearts," Era said.
A five-song CD released last fall included Era's theme song, "Erazistible One;" a catchy rap track titled "Nobody Does It Like We;" and a risque party song, "Take 'Em Off," a big hit when she appeared here last March in a "bowl jam" at Blaisdell Arena.
"There's the side of me that likes to rap, a side that likes to party, and a more serious side when it's time to think of others beyond yourself," she said. A full-length album covering all that and more is scheduled for national release this week. She'll celebrate with several other RTE artists in a CD-release party at the new World Cafe tomorrow.
"Hawaii has been very instrumental in her career so we wanted to start (the album) off here to show the people of Hawaii that we appreciate that," Robinson said. A 10-month international "Erazistible Tour" will follow.
"Last time we were there we went out to Waipahu High School to talk to the students and they had a lot of concerns, (so) we definitely want to come back and visit more of them when we can," Era said.
It hasn't been overnight success for either Robinson or Era (the name was handed down through her family from her great-grandmother). She was born in St. Louis but grew up in Phoenix. A friend from her Phoenix school days, vocalist Ce Ce Peniston, introduced her to Robinson several years ago.
Robinson hopes the cross-over success of Lauryn Hill's solo debut album, "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill," will open white pop stations to the music of other African-American women -- Era first and foremost.
"I like 'em all," Era says of other innovative women in rap and "urban" music.
"A lot of female artists have deep lyrics (and) I like the uniqueness of each of them. I was hanging with Foxy Brown last weekend, and I think it's important for people to know that women can be competitors as artists but still be friends."
In concert: 9 p.m. tomorrow.
Place: New World Cafe, 1130 N. Nimitz Highway
Cost: $10; minimum age 21
Also: Autograph signing, 2 p.m. Saturday, Borders Waikele; 676-6699
For information on programs of the Erazistible Children's Foundation call (877) 277-KIDS.
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